Bend, Not Break

This book is so good that I felt compelled to blog about it.  This book is for anyone who has had what seems like insurmountable obstacles placed in front of them, yet persevered.  It is a book about finding your inner strength.

Below are a few of my favorite passages from the book as these alone will motivate most to read the entire book.

“It gave me comfort to call to mind the Taoist teaching Shanghai Papa had asked me to memorize years earlier about the three friends of winter.  The image of the pine tree, evergreen in winter and always standing straight, reminded me to be strong.  The plum tree was my favorite.  I loved to see its crimson red blossoms lying bright against the crisp white snow the morning after a storm.  One winter day, watching me marvel at the delicate flowers in our scholar garden, Papa said, ‘This is what courage looks like: to blossom when none others dare because they could easily die from the cold.  Courage is the heart refusing to fear.’  I hadn’t really nderstood his words then, but I did now.  Then there was bamboo, the most popular plant in the region where I grew up.  Shanghai Papa had said that I must be like bamboo, bending from the prevailing wind, but never breaking.  Perhaps he had predicted then that something terrible would happen to me, and had had the foresight to instill in me the values that I would need to overcome atrocities.”

Ping Fu was torn away from her loving adopted family at eight years old during the Cultural Revolution in China.  She was forced to live in a dormitory which became home to what were called “the black elements” those that were downcast during the revolution.  At eight years old Ping Fu became the sole supporter and provider of her four year old sister Hong.  Ping and her sister, and millions of others in China lived in desperate poverty for years, eating rationed moldy rice.  Ping was humiliated, raped, and stepped on throughout her childhood.  Education and reading was forbidden.  Ping Fu’s story is jaw-dropping.  She is eventually exiled from her country and comes to the United States.  Miraculously she makes her way through college, has a child, and builds an amazing empire called Geomagic – a company that is the leader in 3D imaging technology.

Bend, Not Break is one of those rare books that I just could not put down.  Below are additional quotes that resonated with me…

“Feeling nauseated and disappointed in myself, I walked in Xixi’s room and watched as she slept.  I had given birth to her.  My responsibility to her was unconditional and I was fully committed.  Yes, while I had given birth to Geomagic as well, I had abandoned it in a moment of insecurity.  I felt that my integrity was being tested.  I was not a quitter.  Now I must take responsibility for Geomagic as I would for my daughter.”

Ping was eventually named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine.  However, the entrepreneurial road has never been easy.  She is candid throughout the book about her struggles and her triumphs.

“As I dealt with various employee issues during those dark hours, I kept reminding myself: it’s all about love.  Blaming others, being fearful and angry, acting vengefully, building resentment, destroying trust – these negative responses to trying situations suck us into a downward spiral and sap our energy, like water spinning down a drain.  The only way to triumph in business and in life is to love what we do, and love our customers, our colleagues, our investors, and our community.  Love even the people who drive us crazy, those who undermine us, and those who fail us, offering them compassion and forgiveness.”

“With my classmates, we discussed how there are two kinds of people.  A ‘sunrise person’ goes through life open to the idea that the best may still be coming.  A ‘sunset person’ on the other hand, believes that the present is always sloping downhill.  We reassured each other that we would be sunrise people and prevent the past from contaminating our future.”

There was so many amazing entrepreneurial nuggets in the book that I can’t do any justice in just one post.  Do yourself a service and get this book….it will change your perspective, which is the first step toward changing your life.

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Sell Smarter – This is How

 

One of the most common mistakes I see sales people make is that when they are in front of a qualified prospect, they spend too much time selling what they do.

“I sell real estate….here are all my awards to prove it….”

“I sell cars…here is my inventory….”

“I do mortgages….here are my rates…”

The problem with explaining WHAT you do to your prospect is that there are thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of people who do what you do.  You are not special because you sell real estate, cars, mortgages….or whatever else.  No, what makes you special is HOW you do it. Your prospect already knows WHAT you do.  That’s why they are sitting in front of you.  What they don’t yet know is what separates you from the thousands of others that do what you do.  If you don’t share your HOW rather than your WHAT then you chance losing the customer….or even worse, you lead the prospect to negotiate your price (ie commission or interest rate). If you are the same as all the other people in your industry why should someone pay you for your value? Surely there’s someone else doing what you do for less.

Now, when you get to your HOW that’s when you go from sales person to sales professional.  When you can eloquently explain the difference in how you do things as compared to how everyone else in your field does things…then you elevate yourself above the masses.   I encourage you to go so far as to explain how MOST in your field do things and then go on to explain how YOU do them.

This is how THEY do things…. ABC

This is how I do things… XYZ

Your customers are not paying for your WHAT….they are paying for your HOW.  If you want to get paid what you are worth, first understand what you are selling and if you are just selling WHAT you do, you’re going nowhere fast.  Why do you buy your coffee at Starbucks, your steak at Capital Grille, or your kid’s doll from American Girl?  You are not buying a WHAT….you are buying a HOW.  So get out there and sell your how.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Join Me For My Live Interview with Chris Smith


 
Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/406792657
Join me Sept 23rd, in a live interview with the amazing, unbelievable, tech-savvy, google friendly, search optimized, mover, shaker, real estate money maker….CHRIS SMITH. Chris is the co-author of the best-selling book Peoplework and is co-founder of Curaytor. As you probably know, he hosts a uber-popular weekly webshow about marketing and technology called #WaterCooler and has even been named the most influential person in real estate by Inman News. You’ve seen him speak at major real estate conferences…..You’ve read his blogs and articles….and you’ve watched his webshow. NOW you get the ultimate opportunity to tune in live as we interview the interviewer. The one, the only, the amazing….CHRIS SMITH. Stay tuned. Virtual Seating for the September live interview with Chris is extremely limited to grab your seat now, before it’s too late.Here’s what we will be asking Chris…1. What the the heck is Peoplework?
2. What is the People Revolution that he talks about in the book?
3. How has technology changed the real estate playing field and what can agents do about it?
4. What happens if I’m an agent that DESPISES technology?
5. Is digitizing the process the endgame in the new techno-savvy world?
6. How has the value proposition changed for real estate peeps?
7. How do we make our businesses more human?
8. What the heck is Curaytor and why are the cool people watching #Watercooler?
9. What would his business look like if Chris were an agent?
10. 3 Coolest technologies agents should learn now to get ahead.And much, much, more. We have got Chris Smith on the line for 45 minutes and we will not waste a second of it. Join us live for this amazing event. 

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.
System Requirements
PC-based attendees
Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server
Mac®-based attendees
Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer
Mobile attendees
Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Banish the Dragons

It’s days like these when I totally love my job.  I’m building a massive real estate empire.  Agents are joining my firm in droves.  Not a day goes by where I am not meeting with another interested, talented candidate for my company.  For every single awesomely amazing day like this, I can recall days where everything was so hard that all I wanted to do was throw in the towel.  Oh yes, there have been days that have brought me to tears. There have been more hard days than I can count…strings of difficult days where I was rejected by everyone I met with.  Weeks where I would work from the break of dawn until midnight, fielding phone calls, prospecting, inching my marketing materials toward greatness, scrambling to pay bills, making hard decisions about employees, offices, and growth.

What I’ve come to realize is that it is IMPOSSIBLE to build a great empire without blood, sweat, and tears…..that’s why there are so few massively amazing empires.  There’s no such thing as heroes without dragons.  No dream may be achieved without sacrifice.

I hope you have big, hairy, audacious goals in your own life.  I pray you realize what I have….that when the tears start to well up in the corners of your eyes….when your eyes burn from exhaustion…..when you feel like you are at your breaking point….this is the universe just sending you signs that you are achieving something AMAZING.  The universe is challenging you….asking you to prove how badly you want it.  These are your dragons and without them you can never be the hero of your life.  Go get it.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Knowledge Is Not Power

 

I read a quote recently which said, “Knowledge is Power.”  The truth is knowledge is nothing unless you do something with it.  I have studied salespeople and entrepreneurs for 20 years.  The most educated are not the most successful.  In fact, there is very little correlation between those that have MBA’s and those that make millions or billions.  So, what makes for a successful entrepreneur? What allows someone to break out of the mediocrity in order to break through the Pareto principle to be one of the 20% doing 80% of the business?

Are you ready for the answer?  It’s simple…but it requires you to do something.  You might not like what I have to say but if you heed this simple theory, your life and your business will be forever changed.

Knowledge is NOT power….

Power is….

Action

Execution

Doing something about it

Changing

Not accepting the status quo

Biting the bullet

Here’s the bottom line….I see some people read books, attend classes, and listen to audio cds constantly.  Hooray!  That’s AWESOME.  However, if you walk away from the class, the book, the audio cd UNCHANGED….then you wasted your time.

I don’t care what you do…but do something.  Make today different than yesterday.  Change your business in small increments. Tweak your business and life daily from the teachings you absorb.  Knowledge is like gasoline in your turbocharged Ferrari.  It’s super useful to have…but it gets you nowhere unless you do something about it, like turning the key.

I recently taught a class called Burn Your Business Plan….the point being that a business plan won’t make or break a business.  That being said, those that labor over business plans are ACTION TAKERS…they are taking action to write the plan.  Therefore, in my humble opinion…those with great business plans build great businesses not necessarily because of the content of their plan but rather their greatness is a byproduct of their ability to take the action of writing a plan.  Execute like your life depends on it and you will build something great.

 

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Why Getting the Silver is Better Than Gold (On Achieving Big Dreams)

I study success for a living…I obsess over success.  Specifically, I’m in the business of growing huge business empires.  I’m working on building a real estate empire that mirrors the likes of Google and Zappos where someday the waiting list of people who want to work at my firm will be endless. I am building an empire where the mission, vision, and company philosophy attract amazing people to the tribe. Today my friend Karen, a fellow success addict, sent me a Ted Talk about success that reframed the way I will look at success and failure forever.

I recently went through a major rebranding of my company.  For fourteen years I had been growing a real estate empire under a major franchise.  In April, I left the franchise and took the agents with me….at least most of them.  This was one of the biggest, boldest, most audacious moves I’ve ever made in my career.  The circumstances of the change don’t matter at all for this blog post, but suffice it to say that I felt like there was no choice but to rebrand as an independent firm.  My partner and I worked with a team of advisors, coaches, attorneys, and accountants in order to ensure the move would be seamless.  We wanted to ensure that our 264 agents would see the value in the new independent brand.  We invested heavily to make sure signs, business cards, marketing materials, and an ad campaign were all ready the day of the announcement.  During the initial work, my advisors asked me over and over, “Realistically….how many agents will you lose?”  My answer….”Realistically…..none.  We will keep everyone.”

My partner told me I was crazy to assume that 100% of our agents would stick with us.  My coaches, consultants, attorneys, all told me to factor in a loss of 40-50% because people don’t like change.  I didn’t believe any of them.  I was confident we’d keep everyone.  I loved them all.  I was good at making sure they knew it.  I figured they loved me and my company back.  I was wrong.

We ended up losing 71 agents who decided to go back to the brand they were comfortable with…the brand they knew and loved.  It was devastating.  My consultants, coaches, and advisors kept telling me, “You are winning!  You’ve kept more than 70% of your agent base.  You are doing fantastic!”  I didn’t feel like I was winning when people I loved and cared about walked out the door.  I felt like I was failing.

During this process I went back to doing what I do best.  I reformatted my vision board (my master bathroom mirror is one big vision board).  I went back to reading Think and Grow Rich for the bazillionth time in my career.  I stuck with my affirmations.  I clung to my running and exercising.  I read books and dove into learning new business skills with vigor.  I also went back to doing the one thing I do better than anyone else in my business…..recruiting and retaining talented people for my organization.  In three short months my partner and I added 35 new sales associates to our firm.  We took our focus off of the losses and redirected our focus back to where it belonged….opportunity.  At the rate we are growing we will exceed our original agent count by fall.  Not only that…we are building a firm of agents that believe in our vision and our mission.

So…back to the Ted Talk about success.  This talk is about how success in and of itself is not what propels us to our dreams.  What propels us is a series of near wins.  When we get really, really, really close to achieving our big dream, it propels us to the top way faster than if we just achieved our goal right off the bat.  There are studies which show that silver medalists, those who just miss the gold, obsess over the gold and because of this obsession, they are much more likely to eventually achieve the gold medal, unlike the bronze medalists who are just happy to have not come in fourth.  In other words, those that achieve HUGE dreams are the ones who have a series of NEAR WINS in their lives and those NEAR WINS propel them to work harder, try harder, and to stop at nothing to get to their destination.

Upon watching this Ted Talk it was abundantly clear that I am in a much better position for having lost almost 30% of my agent base, because that near win propels me every day to grow the best damned real estate empire in New England.  If I continue to grow at the speed I have grown these past three months, then I will add 140 agents per year.  After the fall out from my rebranding, I only had 190 agents that worked in my company.  At my current rate of growth I will have 330 agents in one short year.  That’s without any additional help…that’s just me and my partner putting our absolute focus on winning.  What if we had won on day one?  What if we had kept all 260 agents that were with us on the day of the announcement?  Would we still have added 35 talented team members in three months?  I doubt it.  We would have grown but not at that rate.  It was the loss….the heartache… the NEAR WIN that propelled me and my partner to do whatever it takes to win.

I am not unique in my situation.  I see people make near wins every day.  My friend Amy just switched mortgage brands and she lost some of her talent who wanted to stay with the old brand.  It’s hard watching her go through it, but I know it’s shaping her destiny to build something awesome.  She needed that loss in order to break through to awesome greatness.  If she had kept her entire team and had 100% support like she expected, she’d be in a weaker position because there’d be no gasoline to propel her.  Now that she’s felt the heartache of loss…she’s felt that cold shoulder of the non-believers….NOW she’s ready to take on the world.

Success is great….it’s what we all want, but what’s even better than success is when you don’t quite achieve your dream.  Failure is the best medicine for those of us who bravely go after the most incredulous, farfetched dreams.  Fail big and success is yours for the taking.

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Partnering with the Competition

Who is your biggest competitor?  We all have some competition…in fact competition motivates, drives us, and forces us to be better.  Competition is that elusive person, business, product or service that could potentially put us out of business and could just as equally drive us to the top of our game.  What if I told you that there is so much more opportunity for you on the table if you partnered with rather than fought against your competition?  In business, collaboration will often mean the difference between colossal success and extinction.  It’s a fine line we walk as entrepreneurs.  Recently, as an owner of one of the largest real estate firms in New England, I partnered with my competition to put on an awesome motivational training event for our agents.  This competitor is bigger than me, and in many ways, better than me.  I have recruited agents away from their firm, and likewise, there are agents at their firm that once worked for me.  So, how does partnering with one another make us each stronger?

1. Pooled Resources – By partnering with one of my biggest competitors, we now both have resources that we didn’t have before.  For this event we have pooled our resources, including our money and talent to prepare the program.  As well, we can leverage the impact we have by offering a greater number of agents the content of that program, rather than just one office hording all of the lessons for their team.

2. Unified Front – The real estate world is expansive.  There are many competitors.  Even if we took one another off the table as competitors, there’s still a huge world of potential agents that could work for our firms.  Together we are stronger against the other individual competitors.

3. Strength – In my speeches I often pay credit to this competitor for making my business stronger.  This competitor forced me to create better systems, to build a stronger company culture, and to create a strategy for success.  I re-invented my company over ten years because if I didn’t, this one competitor could have put me out of business.  Now, I call this competitor a friend.  How much more can I learn…how greater may my company now become now that I can ask questions and share ideas with the same company that made me who I am today.  The cooperation goes both ways too….now they have me and my company to talk to and share ideas with.

What makes me and this competitor so unbelievably unique is that we both believe that our biggest competition is ourselves…not someone else…not another company…we each compete to be better than who we were yesterday.  When you realize this one virtue…when you realize that your competitor is not really your competitor at all, it opens up a new reality for you to grow within.

I own a real estate empire…as do lots of other entrepreneurs in my market.  All offer a unique value proposition to attract clients.  There is a limited pool of agents who will make a move in their real estate business…and of course, we all want those agents to choose us.  Perhaps the secret to attracting amazing agents is realizing that there are no competing brands….just unique value propositions for agents to choose from.  If you have ever shopped for a new pair of shoes, you’ll know that the competition is not just about which shoes are more shiny, colorful, or fashionable….but rather which shoes simply fit the best.  When, as business leaders, we realize that the customer chooses based on a personal fit that we cannot control, then building a business has little to do with competition and everything to do with giving the customer pool a comfortable environment to try on what you are offering.  As well, there’s no risk to me exposing my customers to my competitor, and vice versa, because our customers choose us because of fit. Me and my competitor don’t really compete if the customer is choosing based on their personal fit….so doesn’t it make total sense that me and my competitor can team up to create an environment where potential clients can come in and try us on…all while we simultaneously provide value to our own current customers.

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

I’m Being Sued! What’s YOUR Value Proposition?

I am going to reveal a secret to you….it’s a secret that will change your business forever.  It is a tool which, wielded properly, will stave off your competitors and catapult your business to an entirely new level.  I’m talking today about Value Proposition.  Not the regular old run of the mill value proposition like bigger, better, faster, cheaper, shinier.  I’m talking about the value proposition that you live and breath. It’s the nitty gritty value proposition that is the core of YOU and so becomes the core of your business.  It’s the deep down dirty little secrets that make you and your business ooze with awesomeness….the value proposition that nobody can put their finger on….they know you’ve got SOMETHING….but it’s so much more than the bigger, better, faster, cheaper, shinier value proposition that you sell on your websites, presentations, and your mission statement.  Until recently I wasn’t even sure what made me or my company so one of a kind….but now I know.

After being with a franchise for fourteen years, I left.  It’s not because I didn’t love the brand, because I did.  It’s not because they didn’t offer some neat tools, because they did.  It’s because the employees at the regional level had a history of stepping on me, holding me back from growth, discouraging my partner and I from going after bigger and better.  These employees were vicious in their tactics to the point that we couldn’t share our dreams or visions because they’d do their best to subterfuge them….to steal away prospects and give them to our competition.  This went on for years.  Like a person in a bad relationship, I kept justifying in my own head that I deserved this…that I shouldn’t dream so big because my big dreams scare people.  I kept telling myself to dream smaller so that I could fit into the mold that these regional employees wanted me to conform to.  In 2014, after telling these employees, who were supposed to support my dreams,  that we were about to grow again, they stomped me down again.  Have you ever had anyone take your dreams and shred them up in front of you?  I have.  It’s like a knife in the heart….especially for an entrepreneur like me.  I realized then, that my partner and I were going to have to make a really hard decision….the hardest we’ve ever made in our entire combined lives.  We had to choose between living in mediocrity forever by figuring out a way to fit within their mold…or we were going to have to break out of it.   Breaking out would be the hardest, heart wrenching, move my partner and I could ever fathom making.  We knew we COULD do it…because our franchise held us down and broke the rules of our agreements.  But did we want to potentially break apart something we had so carefully constructed for fourteen years when the easy thing to do would have been to live within the mold?

For us…the answer was YES.  Our dreams….the dreams of our organization were worth fighting for.  We made the hardest decision any business owner ever has to make….to throw a huge, heavy, hammer at the beautiful business we built….we had to knock it down to it’s knees to build something better.  We had to kill the old to give birth to something new.  We had to revolt against the people that stepped on us, kicked us, and thought they could because we were chained by contracts the size of skyscrapers.  Our dreams were worth the fight.  Our people…our business…our families…were worth fighting for.

It’s so interesting to me because in the past several weeks we’ve been growing our business by leaps and bounds.  When agents from other firms tell their old employers that they are joining my firm, those employers say…”Really…They are being sued by their old franchise.”  As if, it’s better to throw one last little rock at our company rather than trying to keep agents by reminding them of their own value proposition.

Here’s what I say to that lawsuit:  THAT LAWSUIT IS MY VALUE PROPOSITION.  We are fighters.  We don’t get beat down by the status quo.  You cannot shove us into a mold, handcuff, chain us, and kick us down….and think we are going to take it.  NO YOU CANNOT.  We are brave.  We do not stop when someone holds up a stop sign.  We don’t stay down when someone kicks us.  We don’t retreat when someone fires at us.  We REACH!  We DO!  We fight back… when we know that our dreams are worth fighting for.  That lawsuit, my dear readers….my friends, fellow entrepreneurs, and sales professionals…..that lawsuit is my BADGE OF COURAGE.  I now incorporate that lawsuit into my presentations.  I share it with the world.  I tell prospects thinking about joining my firm….Do you want to work for a company that teaches you to stand up for yourself…to REACH…to persevere….to stand up 101 times when you get knocked down 100?  Or would you rather work for the little guy who sits back and takes what’s handed to him….and accepts the life, the rules, and the abuse that life sometimes hands us?

I know my nitty gritty, dirty, little, value proposition.  I KNOW what makes my organization the best damned real estate firm in the entire world.  Do you know yours?  I hope so.  Because, there’s nothing I love more than when my competition says to an agent that is leaving their firm, “Do you know they are getting sued….” and that agent looks their owner right in the eye and says, “Why yes, it’s exactly why I’m joining them.”

By the way… lawsuits go both ways….they are getting sued by me, my partner, and my business too…..and it will be a cold day in hell before I settle.  I will fight this to the end because my dreams…the dreams of my people…my company…my family are worth it.  My value proposition is that I’ve got the gumption, guts, and grit to fight for what’s right.  Their value proposition?  I guess you could say that they enjoy waking sleeping lions….we’ll see how that works out for them.

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

Ego Driven Goals

Six weeks ago I launched a new real estate brand.  Five years from now it will be the largest real estate brand in New England, helping more than 20,000 families a year with their home buying and selling needs.  Twenty years from now it will be the dominant real estate brand in the world.  I’ve launched a handful of businesses in my twenty year career as an entrepreneur, but this is the one that will be my legacy.  My goal is huge, audacious, and totally practical.  This launch has required by unyielding focus on the details that will result in the success of the business.  There is little room for error.  Therefore, every single day I examine my business plan, strategy, and action steps.  Every minute counts…everything I do from here on in counts.  Today as I was re-examining my plan, strategy and action steps, I found a glaring error in my methodology.  This could have derailed my ship five years from now….so I am grateful to have found the error early.  I am going to share this mistake with you so that you can look for it in your own goals and dreams, but not before I impart the first lesson I hope you extract from today’s post – check, recheck, examine, poke holes, and test theories against your plan every single day.  You don’t want to spend a decade working off a faulty plan so read it daily and assume that you’ve made a mistake somewhere.

Now to my big error.  I have had forty plus agent recruiting appointments since launching my brand six weeks ago and nine merger and acquisition appointments.  I proudly share the goals of my company at each of these meetings because I only want to attract agents who believe in our vision.  Interestingly,  when I launched my brand I did a thorough examination of all of my competitors and I poked holes in their visions and goals.  For example, many large real estate organizations have goals for attracting a certain number of agents each year.  I noticed a flaw in this type of goal setting and realized that my goal would never be based on having a certain number of agents working at my company because to me it was more important to have a few of the right agents than many of the wrong.  So, when I set out to create goals for my company I didn’t put a number as to how many agents I’d recruit.  The goals for my firm would be based instead on the number of families my firm would help with their home buying and selling needs.  For example, my five year goal is that in year five we will be helping 20,000 families buy and sell real estate in New England.  For six weeks I’ve been touting this massive goal at each recruiting appointment I go on.  Then today as I was running through my plan, strategy, and action steps in my head…I realized a major flaw in this goal. It is the same flaw that I recognized in other companies who were using agent count as their goal.  My goal was totally ego driven….in fact the goal I had been touting was not actually my goal at all!

Here’s how I poked holes in my goal.  I could help 20,000 families this year in their home buying and selling needs.  For example, I could become a deep discount real estate firm that is the cheapest in the business for customers and the cheapest in the business for agents.  I bet I could grab up business quickly by becoming the cheapest….just like Sam Walton did.  But, I don’t want to be a discount brokerage even if  I were guaranteed to get to my goal by doing so.  As I thought about this further I realized that helping 20,000 buyers and sellers a year wasn’t really my goal after all.  Rather than a goal…this number is my scorecard.  My real goal is to build an awesomely amazing real estate firm where we teach agents to go after Big Hairy Audacious Goals in their lives…where we teach them a strategy for achieving them.  I want to build a company that attracts entrepreneurs who take calculated risk, create a strategy for achieving their vision, and then achieve.  I am building a real estate firm where we offer the highest possible concierge type of services to our salespeople…where we think about what our agents need before they do and we provide it without their having to ask.  We are becoming the Starbucks, Nordstrom, Zappos of the real estate industry.

Once it’s built, I will know it because the evidence will be the 20,000 families a year that my agents will help with their home buying and selling needs.

Being number one is an ego driven goal and it’s awfully hard to attract people to that vision.  Therefore, find the WHY behind the number so that the number becomes nothing more than a scorecard.  Getting buy-in for your vision is so much easier when you can articulate your why. Your why is your goal.  Your stature, market position, and other numbers will be the scorecard of your success.

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.

5 Lessons Learned from Re-Branding

After fourteen years of owning a franchise, three weeks ago I launched my own real estate brand as I continue my journey of achieving my Big Hairy Audacious Goal of owning one of the largest real estate firms in New England, and then the world. I’ve been an entrepreneur my entire life, but my recent rebranding offered me some awesome lessons allowing me to learn in three short weeks way more than I could have learned in years. This was one of the hardest and one of the most exciting undertakings I’ve ever ventured into. I’m so glad that I did it because for the first time in at least ten years, I once again have the fire in my belly needed to take my business to entirely new levels. There were literally hundreds of lessons learned through the launch of this new brand, but I’ve narrowed it down to five that I feel any entrepreneur can apply to his or her own business.

1. The Price of Keeping the Wrong People – Three years ago I read the book Delivery Happiness by Tony Hsieh, the founder of Zappos. I was so enthralled by the lessons that I followed up by visiting Zappos headquarters in Las Vegas to take a tour and learn from the people there about building an awesome culture. There’s one lesson that stuck out to me when I was reading Tony’s book. At Zappos, when an employee joins their company, they go through a training period and then Zappos offers to pay them a stipend ($2000 I think) if they choose not to take the job. WHAT? They pay people to NOT take the job. That’s right! Zappos figures that if you’re willing to take the $2000 over the opportunity to work there, you are totally not cut out for the job. I learned a similar lesson when rebranding my own firm. You see, my previous franchise popped up real estate offices in all my markets (they gave away 13 franchises for $1 each) in order to keep as many as my agents as possible. The owners of those offices did anything to buy my team members. As much as it hurt to lose some talent, I felt solace in knowing that my team was stronger in the end because the 80% of team members who believed in the new brand vision were all better off surrounded by other supporters. We would have had huge cracks in the foundation of our new company if we were holding on to people that didn’t believe 200% in where we were going. This is similar to the feeling that Zappos has…”We are so sure of our awesomeness….that we will pay you to go so that all the other team members have the benefit of being surrounded by raving fans who are just like them.”

2. Sticks and Stones – I have never had so much criticism, negativity, and name calling hurled toward me than I have in these last three weeks. Twenty years ago this would have been enough to cause me to crawl into bed and hibernate for three months. However, what’s amazing is that I’ve learned so much about success over the past twenty years that now I literally bask in the sun of all the naysayers. Their doubt, criticism, and disbelief is what fuels me to work harder. I graduated from the best business school in New England because I would re-play the words of my fifth grade teacher who told me I had learning disabilities and that I would never amount to much. That teacher made me better! I graduated from law school and passed the bar even after so many people told me I could never do it. Thank God they told me I couldn’t, because who knows if I would have had the fuel to get through it without them. Almost everything AWESOME in my life was the by-product of someone telling me I couldn’t. Now I know my new real estate brand is going to dominate in New England and eventually all over the world, because I already have the doubters gassing my engine. One of those doubters called my new real estate brand, “A Mickey Mouse Brand.” If only she had read the book, How to Be Like Walt, because then she would know that in trying to criticize me she had actually paid me the highest compliment one could have ever paid an entrepreneur like me.

3. Fear Motivates – Nobody likes change. We all know that. Not until recently did I learn how much of a motivator fear can be. I lost 20% of the agents who went back to the franchise I left. If there were no such thing as fear, none would have left. Why would they? Everything else stayed the same. We had the same staff members, same locations, and same owners. We had duplicated the tools being offered and we increased the amount of advertising in the marketplace so that we would quickly become a household name. We didn’t change much at all. However, we did change the name. The effect of the name change was that agents would no longer be recognized as a brand name agent in other states across the country. The offices that opened in our market convinced many that their business would forever be effected by the name change. This created fear. Some of our agents left. If there were no fear in the world, and we were all forced to deal with actualities then I wouldn’t have lost anyone. By the way, I don’t discredit anyone that moves in fear. In fact, when you get down to it, fear is what motivated me to get out of the same franchise that some of my agents feared losing. I feared what my future would look like if I stayed there, and felt the alternative, de-branding, was the best choice for our firm based on our vision of the future.

4. Others Can’t Hurt Us – There were a few times these past two weeks where I felt hurt by the actions of others. However, what I realized is that only I can hurt ME. Nobody has the ability to hurt me with words or actions, only I can do that to myself. We all control our own emotions, reactions, and feelings. When someone does something that hurts us, like says something to criticize, we can choose to accept that as pain, ignore it, or turn it into fuel that will energize us. On the few times that I felt emotionally hurt during this time of change, I’d quickly re-group, concentrate on my feelings, and bring myself back to the realization that if I feel hurt and pain it’s because of me….nobody but me controls how I feel.

5. Keep the Focus Where It Needs to Be – Ones focus must always be on the future, not the past. If I dwelled on who left, why they left, and how I felt about it, I’d have no time to build an awesomely amazing future. That was the whole point of re-branding anyway. The purpose of the rebranding was to offer a better future for our team members and no matter what happens we have already done just that. The future of the new company is one in which my partner and I have the ability to offer new and better services, greater localized presence, more business through advertising, SEO, and social media campaigns, and a high quality work experience for our agents and staff. For anyone that reads this blog, remember this, you cannot change the past, but you can create an awesome future. Keep your focus on your goals, vision, and dreams…and there’s no stopping you!

Stacey Alcorn is the author of REACH! and Tuned In. She is a business strategy and sales consultant for large corporations and Global Fortune 100 Firms. She is also a keynote speaker, blogger, trainer, and start-up consultant. Her sales training products have been licensed by hundreds of organizations around the world who use her one-of-a kind sales training materials as the genesis for their own brand growth. Make sure to sign up here for my REACH! Weekly News for awesome interviews with Leaders & Visionaries that I only share with my VIP members.